The Cities of the Dead, famous for their above-ground tombs and mausoleums, are the final resting places of celebrated New Orleans residents.
St. Louis Cemetery is a group of three historically significant graveyards located in and around New Orleans’ city center. They are home to the shrines of aristocrats, musicians, politicians, wealthy merchants and everyday New Orleans residents. Atmospheric and at times spooky, St. Louis Cemetery takes you on a journey through periods in the city’s long history. Walk the paved streets, admire the artistic flair of the tombs and learn about their place in popular culture.
Established in 1789, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is both the oldest and smallest of the three. Access is via paid guided tours only, which take place three times a day from Monday to Saturday and once on Sunday. Dennis Hopper chose it as a filming location for a scene in the movie Easy Rider. Look for a major highlight, the shrine of the voodoo practitioner Marie Laveau; her ghost is said to roam the pathways.
Walk just 10 minutes from here to St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, which covers three entire city blocks. Note how sparkling architectural gems are squeezed between dilapidated tombs, whose family members may have all passed away. Danny Barker, Ernie K. Doe and other musicians are among the notable people entombed here.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 is the least visited. However, its pleasant green spaces and flowerbeds make it the least unnerving of these necropolises. See the flamboyant marble vaults, which are admirable works of art. Many recall the great floods, outbreaks of disease and waves of immigration witnessed by the city.
Cemeteries No. 1 and No. 2 are located on the western edge of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Trams and public buses stop nearby. Reach No. 3 by taking a tram to the Museum of Art stop and walk a short distance from there.
Each of the individual locations of St. Louis Cemetery is open daily. Entrance to No. 2 and No. 3 is free. Ask at the Louisiana Visitor Center on St. Anne Street for information about tour operators.